A supply glut coupled with slack demand has bermudagrass hay prices backing off in northern Arkansas so far this winter, says grower Jamey Styles of Coal Hill.

Cow hay in particular has been going for fire-sale prices in recent weeks.  “People have been selling it cheap just to get rid of it,” he says. “We’re seeing round bales in our area go for as low as $20/bale. You can’t put it up for that.

“It was an excellent year for growing hay,” Styles explains. “We had more rain than we’ve had in a good while, and we put up more hay in one cutting this past year than we did in all of 2012.”

His bermudagrass goes into 3 x 3 x 8’ and small square bales from 1,000 acres. Horse owners, beef backgrounders and dairy producers buy his product.

Styles blames the lower prices largely on a shrinking cow-calf herd in the region. “A lot of (beef producers) sold out last year because of the drought. So this past year they were making hay, but they didn’t have any animals to feed it to. That hay ended up on the market.”

In the horse hay market, a good production year in neighboring states cut into Styles’ sales. “There wasn’t a drought in Texas or Oklahoma or Kansas. Those had been pretty good marketing areas for us the last couple of years.”

The net result, says Styles, is that large bales are selling for around  $150/ton. That’s down about $30/ton compared to prices of a year ago. Small square prices are off by $1-2/bale.

Prices may or may not improve depending on the weather. “We’ve had some cold and wet weather in the last couple of weeks. So we’ve seen a little more demand locally. The weather forecasters here are predicting a hard winter. If that turns out to be the case, prices could pick up a little.”

To contact Styles, call 479-774-4400 or email jameystyles@gmail.com.

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